Gibson says sorry to Jews for rant

MEL Gibson said yesterday that he was not a bigot or an antisemite as he apologised to "everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words" he used when arrested for drink-driving.

The Hollywood star is now fighting a desperate battle to repair his reputation.

In the first fallout from his drunken tirade, the ABC TV network scrapped a planned mini-series about the Holocaust that it was developing with Gibson's company, Icon Productions. "Given that it has been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon," it said.

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When arrested on the Pacific Coast Highway last Friday by James Mee, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, Gibson blamed Jews "for all the wars in the world" and asked the arresting officer if he was Jewish.

In a statement issued through his publicist yesterday, Gibson asked to meet with Jewish leaders "with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing".

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of antisemitic remark," Gibson, 50, said in the statement, which apologises to "everyone in the Jewish community". He went on: "Please know from my heart that I am not an antisemite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith."

Mr Mee, who is Jewish, would not comment specifically on what Gibson said. "That stuff is booze talking," the deputy said outside his home yesterday.

On Saturday, Gibson said he had "acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said."

He said he had struggled for years with alcoholism and his publicist later revealed Gibson was seeking treatment. "The guy is trying to stay alive," he said.

Gibson's tirade has drawn the ire of Jewish leaders and of Ari Emanuel, an influential talent agent, who blasted the star on the Arianna Huffington blog, "At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements," Mr Emanuel wrote.

He said the entertainment community should react by "professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line".

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This is not the first time Gibson has faced accusations of antisemitism. Some Jewish leaders said his film The Passion of the Christ cast Jews as the killers of Jesus. Before its release, Gibson's father, Hutton, was quoted as saying the Holocaust was "mostly fiction".

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